As the Comonwhealth takes on the ongoing opioid epidemic, many schools in the Greater Boston Area are prepared to administer Narcan in the event of a crisis.
So far, schools haven't had to administer Narcan, according to officials in Quincy and Newton. Other cities that equip schools with Narcan include Cambridge, Concord and Malden.
Police in Quincy have been equipped with Narcan for six years, but adminiistration of the anti-opioid varies widely througout the city and throughout the calendar, according to Quincy Detective Lt. Patrick Glynn.
“We could go a week or two without a reversal then have two or three in one day,” Quincy Detective Lt. Patrick Glynn. “It’s sporadic. You can’t pinpoint specific times. We had an unusually low number last month, where we are used to 15 to 16 non-fatals.”
Despite the lack of opioid emergencies during school hours, oficials said it's best to be prepared.
"We learned a big lesson from China White, a heroin problem in the early 1990's and crack cocaine in the 1980's that we have to be prepared and hit the problem head on," Glynn said. "We aren’t giving into a stigma — we have sporting events, community events [wehere an emergency might occur]. In reality, it’s not much different than public facilities equipped with defibrillators or EpiPens. It’s another layer of protection and it is better to have it and not need it.”
While many public schools in Massachusetts are expanding their overdose prevention programs by arming more nurses with the spray, Boston schools have yet to equip their staff with Narcan.
“Boston Public Schools is grateful that our city’s first responders are equipped with Narcan should it ever be needed,” Boston Public Schools spokesman Dan O’Brien said in a statement to Metro. “BPS nurses currently do not have Narcan and there is no immediate plan to begin purchasing Narcan for Boston Public Schools.”
According to the state Department of Public Health’s October 2015 survey, 133 of the 244 public schools surveyed are equipped with or expect to be equipped with Narcan revival kits by June.
And many towns and cities on the Boston’s borders are training school nurses to prevent opioid-related deahs. Newton, for example, has put revival kits in every public school, from preschool to their high schools.
“School nurses, by design, intervene in emergencies and are able to administer meds and educate people on meds,” said Newton Public Schools spokeswoman Ruth Hoshino. “As the crisis grows, they are prepared to help when it is needed. This is about the community more than the students, and this is a serious public health issue. We wanted to be a public health model and be prepared as opposed to having to wait until after a tragedy occurs.”
The MIddlesex District Attorney’s Office has been sponsoring Narcan training sessions since November 2015.
The Middlesex Distric Attorney Marian Ryan has hosted training sessions for school employees from Newton, Cambridge, Concord, Malden, Woburn, Waltham and other nearby towns.
Meanwhile, Needham, Lowell, Brockton, Braintree, and Hudson all have standing orders to maintain a supply of Narcan and conduct training sessions, which are expected to move forward in early 2016 .
As of August 2015, an estimated 1,256 people died from opioid overdoses, according to the state’s data brief.
“It’s not necessarily a focus on our students,” Hoshino said. “This is a public health issue, and we don’t know who visit the facilities. Pre-schools have parents and family, all schools have faculty. When you have a professionally licensed nurse, why wouldn't they intervene in a crisis?”